“I am happy Para badminton will be in the Paralympic Games. It’s a dream for all players to be at Tokyo 2020.”
Switzerland’s Karin Suter-Erath and France’s Lucas Mazur are at the opposite ends of their Para badminton careers. But both have the goal of reaching Tokyo 2020, where the sport will make its Paralympic debut.
Suter-Erath and Mazur each showed they are at the top of their games after outstanding 2016 performances. That did not go unnoticed as they received respective 2016 Badminton World Federation (BWF) Para Badminton Players of the Year awards.
Suter-Erath, a two-time Paralympian in wheelchair tennis, has just about seen and achieved much. The veteran won doubles bronze from Athens 2004 and revelled in the delight of a new experience – her first global Female Para Badminton Player of the Year title.
“Yes, it’s my goal to be there. I think to play in Tokyo where badminton is a big sport will be fantastic,” Suter-Erath said about Tokyo 2020.
The 46-year-old beat three other nominees for the top honour after another outstanding 2016 season where she secured triple gold at the European Para Badminton Championships in the Netherlands, plus two golds in the Turkey International. She also retained her women’s singles WH 1 crown at the Irish Para Badminton International. She ended 2016 in fine style with another triple-gold haul at the 1st Colombia Para Badminton International in early December.
Suter-Erath was unable to be in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to receive her award but was pleased to be recognised for her 2016 performance.
“It was a big surprise for me. I didn’t expect it. When I got the call, I was very happy and proud,” she said.
“It’s nice to win awards but I don’t think about that when I am competing. My goal is to play my best and to keep improving my badminton. If I win awards because of that, then that’s great.”
Citing her continental success as the highlight of her season, the Swiss star was especially thrilled to capture the women’s singles title in a tough three-game final versus Germany’s Valeska Knoblauch.
“That was really close. She made me move a lot and we had some great rallies. I like those challenges,” Suter-Erath said.
Suter-Erath also enjoys travelling to events globally, making friends from various countries and testing herself in different conditions, such as Majorca, Spain, where she will start her 2017 campaign and Ulsan, South Korea, which hosts the BWF Para Badminton World Championships in November.
Meanwhile, French teen sensation Mazur took the Male Para Badminton Player of the Year crown from more senior rivals. It followed an impressive season where he won triple gold at the Turkey and Ireland Internationals before reaping similar success at the European Para Badminton Championships in the SL 4 class.
“It’s a very important achievement for me because it’s a celebration of my year,” said 19-year-old Mazur, after receiving his award at the Gala Dinner in Dubai.
“It has been a long year of training and travel, in Indonesia, Spain and Netherlands. I’m proud of my country and that I got this award. A year ago, I followed the player awards and when I didn’t win, I decided to work harder to win this title. I want to win it the next year also.
“I am happy Para badminton will be in the Paralympic Games. It’s a dream for all players to be at Tokyo 2020,” said Mazur, who suffered a growth deformity in his right ankle after a stroke when he had chickenpox at age three.
“Winning this award is motivation for me to get ready for Tokyo 2020. It’s very important to be ready [from] now for the [Paralympics]. To be a champion, you have to always be prepared.”
For more information on Para badminton, visit the BWF’s website.